What is a Surgical Technician?

by Angela Stevens on March 16, 2010

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It is amazing what you can learn when you are in the most random situations. I was at the hospital with my mother as she was being prepped for surgery. I have this habit of talking nonstop, especially when I’m nervous, and so proceeded to talk to all of the medical staff about what they did and how they liked their jobs and so on until they politely managed to get rid of me. After the surgery, while mom was in recovery, I took a short break to visit the cafeteria and refuel. Some of the staff that I’d talked to before the surgery were there and were also taking a snack break. Apparently, I hadn’t annoyed all of them too much, because they invited me to sit with them. The surgical technician and I really hit it off, and she told me all about a job I never knew existed.


Surgical technicians are basically the oil that keeps the operating room machine going.They set up all of the surgical items such as equipment, instruments, drapes, and solutions. The check to make everything is just the way it is supposed to be and where it is supposed to be so the surgeons and nurses don’t have waste time trying to find something during the middle of an operation. They often are also responsible for getting the patient ready for the surgery by prepping the surgical site, positioning them on the table, and draping them with sterile drapes. They may check vital signs, replace items, count items after surgery, and assist the surgical team as they prepare for the procedure.

The surgical technician has important jobs to do before, during, and after a procedure, and yet most patients never realize that one person is doing all of these activities in order to ensure the surgery proceeds smoothly. I know I certainly never thought about it before, and when I asked my mother later if she had noticed what the girl, who I identified for her as the surgical technician, was doing, she admitted she wasn’t sure. She had assumed the lady was a nurse of some sort.

Interestingly, surgical technicians do not undergo the same sort of training as nurses. In fact, training programs range in length from approximately nine-month to two-year accredited programs. However, it is also possible to receive accreditation through on the job training and an accreditation test. I think I would find this to be one of the few jobs in the medical field that I might enjoy. Putting things in order appeals to me, as does the procedure and precision required by the job. Of course, the fact that a surgical technician remains in the operating room does ultimately make me a bit squeamish.

What do you like about being a surgical technician? How did you decide on this career path?


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